29 October 2007

Contrasts in Culture

Two articles referring to modesty came up this week I'd like to share with you.

In the first article, "Face-Veil: Mistaking Social Custom for Religious Rules," the author tackles a very ticklish subject. The idea of modesty, especially for a lady, is a part of her spirit, as what is inside is portrayed on the outside. For many religious women, modesty is a part of spiritual humility and the understanding that women were made differently from men for a reason. There is also the idea that beauty is not something to brag about or enhance vainly (since the physical things do tend to fall apart over time), but to accept humbly, or in "old fashioned" terms, modestly. What makes this subject so difficult is the fact that modesty is subjective. In regards to culture, especially, men and women grow up to understand that a certain style of dress, or certain behaviours, are humble and modest, while others are proud and vain. When a person moves into another culture - then what? Is the new culture too modest? Or not modest enough? And what makes people especially frustrated: Where will we draw the line? Muslims, this article points out, are taught to be modest in behaviour and apparel, but depending on the local culture, that definition changes. A very conservative, modest Muslim lady from Saudi who moves to the US, in this example, begins to move her own personal line, as she notices differences in the new local culture as to what is expected. I think most people in general would agree that there is no "law" which says that a woman is to cover her face and hands in public, and yet, there are women of all cultural backgrounds who may be very modest about their appearance.

And yet there are cultures where there seem to be no lines at all for modesty, and the idea itself is openly mocked. The second article that I came across today regarding modesty is the announcement that the Spice Girls singing group - known for their love of attracting attention - will be going on tour again, and this time, giving modesty and humility up for dead. The Spice Girls will get naked.
The Spice will reportedly being getting naked on stage for their reunion tour, and are getting paid $2 million each to do so..

Mel C, speaking to Graham Norton on his BBC 2 show, said: ‘We do actually go naked in the show, completely’

But, she insists that the girls will use props to hide their modesty.

According to Now Magazine, the famous four, who are reuniting later this year for an around the world reunion tour are also going to wow audiences with a pole-dancing strip-tease routine, for which they’ve reportedly received professional tutoring from exotic dancers.

‘It is their raunchiest routine ever and they just can’t wait,’ a source told the Daily Star.

‘It is going to be no holds barred. But they’re all in great shape, so why shouldn’t they just go for it?’

As I pointed out in my last blog article, Dear Abby says we modest girls should just grow a thicker skin and let these Spice Girls be. I think the "live and let live" attitude of our culture would agree.

But this disparity of cultures makes me sad. Sometimes it angers me, because I know that there are women who understand the difference between men and women, who know what the images can and have done to men and their families and their lives, and who still parade and flaunt and live in such a way that not only says that they are "confident" that they look good, but that they do not care about anyone but themselves and their own pleasure and comfort. They teach women who do not understand these things that to live immodestly is OK, and that the "backward", "old fashioned", "repressed" men and women will just have to accept them as they are. Not only accept, but get over the desire to be humble or modest, and live like they do. It's almost as if by proclaiming with flash and pomp: "Aren't We Naughty?", that they really want all people to be like them. But if all become like them, who will then be considered "naughty?" Unfortunately, it turns out that the ones in the wrong are those who want to preserve dignity, self-worth, marital fidelity, and mental purity; those who want "no lines drawn" will say that religious leaders, or leaders of families, have no right to make up arbitrary laws about the ambiguous idea of modesty - and then they will draw another line: that those who do establish limits are wrong. Noble Knights and Ladies are jeered. Honourable Fathers and Mothers are scorned and "put to death" in so many ways. All are sacrificed on the altar to the God of flashy self.
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